It became clear why the land of 10,000 lakes is also dubbed “the state of hockey” when three of the four teams that advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four hailed from Minnesota.
And if there is one thing Minnesotans love more than hockey itself, it is the pride that comes with living up to their state’s nickname.
This year students at Minnesota State University, Mankato were filled with that pride as they watched the Mavericks defeat the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers in a 4-0 shutout last week, securing a spot in the Frozen Four along with University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, the St. Cloud State University Huskies and the University of Massachusetts Minutemen.
“My friends and I went crazy when they won against the U,” says MNSU junior Taylor Dubej, who watched the game on TV with a group of friends. “We [the Mavericks] are advancing to the Frozen Four which is a super big deal.”
Senior Hogan Greenwood says he was also excited to see the Mavericks beat the Gophers and advance to the Frozen Four.
“I was so happy for everyone,” he said. “It’s been tough for the Mavs with never being able to win a game in the NCAA tournament and now they’re headed to the Frozen Four.”
Junior Mike Scholl said watching the previous game got him excited to keep watching.
“I really saw them come together and play as a team,” he says. “That’s what allowed us to win.”
Dubej, Greenwood and Scholl said they’ve been hockey fans since they were kids. They’ve been loyal Mavericks fans since freshman year.
“I’d go to almost all the Mavs games before COVID-19 started,” says Dubej.
He says he plans to head downtown to grab a bite to eat while watching the Frozen Four with some of his friends.
With COVID-19 restrictions loosening, Dubej and others can watch the big game at popular bars and restaurants in town such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Rounders and the 507 (which is reportedly booked solid Thursday for that reason).
To encourage students and fans to watch the game with the 507 staff, the bar is offering deals all night long, including 99-cent BOGO appetizers and drinks for all to enjoy. Hockey fans need only show their server that they follow @barstoolkato and @the5o7 on Instagram.
Other local bars are getting in on the action by offering their own game day deals. Pub 500 will begin their watch party at 4 p.m. with their full event menu, full bar, and their gathering special, consisting of four pulled pork sandwiches, a pound of fries, and a pitcher of pop for $20. Customers can exchange the pop for beer at an additional $5 charge.
Johnny B’s has its own drink specials lined up for the big game. There will be $3.25 domestic taps, $3.50 Captain Morgan’s, and $4 rail drinks.
Students who prefer to stay on campus and watch the game in the comfort of their own home are able to do so as well. The University will be hosting a watch party of its own that includes a fan guide. Information for this party can be found at msumavericks.com/frozenfour.
As for Greenwood’s and Scholl’s game-day plans, both say they expect to watch the Frozen Four at home.
“My game-day prediction is that we win 4-2,” says Dubej. “I predict the Mavs will advance.”
With their predictions made, all three students offer the team some encouraging words.
“Let’s go boys,” chants Dubej. “Let’s bring some hardware to Mankato.”